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 Lincoln and His Generals-- A list and Information Links


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A List of the 'General in Chief' of the Union Army varied throughout the war:  

  • Maj. Gen Winfield Scott: July 5, 1841 - November 1, 1861
  • Maj. Gen George McClellan: November 1, 1861 - March 11, 1862
  • Pres Lincoln and War Secretary Stanton (with War Council): March 11, 1862 - July 23, 1862
  • Maj. Gen Henry W. Halleck: July 23, 1862 - March 9, 1864
  • Lt Gen Ulysses S. Grant: March 9, 1864 - March 4, 1869

What is often thought of as the main army in the eastern theater, the Army of the Potomac (and thus the field command of the Union Army in the east), went through a series of generals that also differed from this chain:

  • Brig. Gen Irving McDowell: May 27 - July 25, 1861 (First Battle of Bull Run)
  • Maj. Gen George B. McClellan: July 26, 1861 - November 9, 1862 (Peninsula Campaign through Antietam)
  • Maj. Gen Ambrose Burnside: November 9, 1862 - January 26, 1863 (Fredericksburg)
  • Maj Gen Joseph Hooker: January 26 - June 28, 1863 (Chancellorsville)
  • Maj. Gen George Meade: June 28, 1863 - June 28, 1865 (Gettysburg through the war's end)

Two issues further complicate this list:

  • Following the Peninsula Campaign, the Army of the Potomac was divided, with several Corps placed in a new army, the Army of Virginia (led by MG John Pope), which fought the Northern Virginia campaign ending in Second Bull Run. This leads to the appearance of McClellan being removed from command and later recalled, when in reality his command was downgraded.
  • When Grant was brought east, he was named General in Chief, not commander of the Army of the Potomac. Meade kept command of that army subordinate to Grant, who shared headquarters. Many believe Grant could this way claim the successes of the army while Meade would bear responsibility for operations setbacks. The Eastern armies were further reorganized during this period to add the Army of the James (Butler and Ord) and to reactivation of the Army of the Shenandoah (Sheridan), all working under Lt Gen Grant as both General in Chief and the field commander.


Ulysses S. Grant General Ulysses S. Grant led the Union Army during the later years of the civil war, and with his victory at Appomattox Courthouse, effectively ended the civil war. Learn more about Ulysses S. Grant.
George McClellan General George McClellan led the Army Of the Potomac during the early years of the civil war. Learn more about George Mcclellan
Robert Anderson Starting as a Major and ending as a Brigadier General, Robert Anderson is best known for surrendering Fort Sumter. Learn more about Robert Anderson.

Nathaniel Banks


General Nathaniel Banks was a hapless leader of the Union Army, suffering one defeat after another. Learn more about Nathaniel Banks.

General William Tecumseh Sherman General William Tecumseh Sherman fought in many battles and his best known for taking Atlanta followed by his brutal by effective "march to the sea." Learn more about William Tecumseh Sherman.
George Custer General George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer who served in the civil war and Indian wars, meeting his end at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Read more about George Custer.
Winfield Scott Hancock General Winfield Scott Hancock was a US Army officer for his entire career and eventually a nominee for the office of President of the US in 1880. He served in the army for a total of four decades and is considered a war hero for his Gettysburg service. His nickname is “Hancock the Superb.” He died at Governor’s Island in 1886 because of complications from diabetes and an infected carbuncle. He was buried at the Montgomery Cemetery in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Read more about Winfield Scott Hancock.
Abner Doubleday Though there is a myth saying that Abner Doubleday was the inventor of baseball, he never said that he did. Doubleday was a big supporter of Abraham Lincoln. He died of a heart condition and was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Read more about Abner Doubleday.

Ambrose Burnside


General Ambrose Burnside Ambrose, besides being a soldier, was an industrialist, railroad executive and an inventor, eventually becoming the governor of Rhode Island as well as US Senator. In 1881, Burnside died of a heart attack and was buried at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.. Read more about Ambrose Burnside.
Arthur Macarthur General Arthur Macarthur was one of five men to ever be promoted to a five star rank of the general army. Eventually, Macarthur became the governor general for the military for the Philippines in 1900. He died of a heart attack at the age of 67 and though he was originally laid to rest in Milwaukee, his remains were moved to the Arlington National Cemetery. Read more about Arthur Macarthur.

Benjamin Butler


General Benjamin Butler was not only a soldier but also a lawyer and eventually a politician for the state of Massachusetts. He still ranks as one of the, if not the, most controversial political generals during the Civil War. Butler died in court at the capital, Washington DC. He is buried at his in-laws’ cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts. Read more about Benjamin Butler.
Daniel Sickles General Daniel Sickles was a Union general during the Civil War as well as a controversial politician. Sickles was injured during battle and his leg was amputated. Even then he did all he could to boost the morale of his soldiers. After the war, he served as a Minister to Spain and as the New York State Board of Civil Service Commissioners’ President until 1889. He was sheriff of New York and eventually a representative for Congress. He died in New York City and was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. Read more about Daniel Sickles.
George Meade General George Gordon Meade was a civil engineer and an army officer before serving as a Union general during the Civil War. He was successful in defeating General Lee but was criticized for not pursuing the Confederate Army when in his grasp. He became a commissioner of Fairmont Park in Philadelphia until his death. He died from a combination of pneumonia and old wounds and now rests at the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Read more about George Meade.
George Thomas General George Thomas served as an army officer throughout his career and a Union general at the time of the American Civil War. His career was an overall success even if he did not get the fame that other contemporaries did. Thomas died of a stroke while he was writing an answer to a critique of his military career. He was laid to rest at Oakwood Cemetery in upstate New York. Read more about George Thomas.
Irvin McDowell

General Irvin McDowell was an army officer who is better known for the defeat at First Battle of Bull Run. McDowell had at his disposal the army of Northeastern Virginia which unfortunately was inexperienced and not ready. He launched his attack due to pressure from Washington and though the strategy was imaginative, his troops were not ready to carry it out. McDowell died in 1885 and was buried at the San Francisco National Cemetery. Read more about Irvin Mcdowell.


John Buford General John Buford was an officer of the Union Cavalry during the Civil War and one of his most important roles took place at Gettysburg. Buford is known for selecting the right field of battle during Gettysburg. He died at the age of 37 due to contracting typhoid. Even in his death bed he was thinking of military strategy as his last words were “Put guards on all the roads and don’t let the men run to rear.” Read more about John Buford.

John Pope


General John Pope was a general for the Union during the Civil War and a career army officer. He is mostly known for the defeat at Second Battle of Bull Run in the east, after which he was sent to Minnesota. John Pope eventually became major general in the regular army and would die at the Ohio Soldiers’ Home in Sandusky, Ohio. He was then buried at the Belle Fontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. Read more about John Pope.
John Reynolds General John Reynolds was an army officer and a general during the Civil War. He was a very respected senior commander and is known for committing the Army of the Potomac to Gettysburg. Reynolds was killed early in that same battle. He was buried in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1863. Read more about John Reynolds.
Joseph Hooker General Joseph Hooker was a major general for the Union during the Civil War and a career army officer. Hooker was known for his audacious battle strategies, one of which took place against Robert E. Lee. However, he lost that Battle at Chancellorsville. Hooker led the procession for the funeral of President Lincoln. He died while visiting Garden City in Long Island, New York and was laid to rest at the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. Read more about Joseph Hooker.

Joshua Chamberlain


General Joshua Chamberlain was a college professor and eventually a brigadier general and brevet major general for the Union army during the Civil War. He is known for having been given the command of Union troops for the surrender ceremony with Robert E. Lee. He served as the governor of his state of Maine. He died in 1914 in Portland, Maine and was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick. Read more about Joshua Chamberlain.

Philip Sheridan


General Philip Sheridan was a Union general and an army officer throughout his career. He is known for his association with Ulysses S. Grant and for his fast assent to major general. He was also very instrumental to the development of Yellowstone National Park. He died of heart failure in Dartmouth, Massachusetts in 1888 and he was buried near Arlington House in the Arlington National Cemetery. Read more about Philip Sheridan.
Oliver Howard General Oliver Howard was a Union general in the Civil War and a career army officer. He suffered defeats at Gettysburg and Chancellorsville but at Western Theater his reputation went back up. Howard would base a lot of his policy decisions on his religion and that is why he was nicknamed “The Christian General.” Howard died in Vermont and is buried at the Lake View Cemetery in Burlington. Read more about Oliver Howard.
William Starke Rosecrans General William Starke Rosecrans was not only a general for the Union during the Civil War, but also a coal and oil company executive, an inventor, a politician and a diplomat. His early military career was full of success, however, later suffered humiliating defeats. He was considered a possibility for a Vice Presidential run with Abraham Lincoln. He served as a congressman from California and eventually died in Redondo Beach, California. Read more about William Starke Rosecrans.

A List of Confederate Generals (Southern)

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